Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Talking to your right-wing relatives over the holidays

We all have things we love about this time of  year. And things we don't.

Time off from work, receiving gifts, Christmas cookies and seeing our kids' eyes light up when they open the presents we got them are all in the good column. On the other hand, navigating crowded shopping malls, fighting through traffic and busy airports - these are not pleasant.

Now labor friend and economist Robert Reich has a new video to guide you through another unpleasant part of the holidays: talking to your right-wing relatives who want to give you an earful about how terrible unions are and how "big government" is hurting the corporate "job creators."

Reich plays the part of crotchety conservative uncle and the better-informed progressive who debunks all of "Uncle Bob's" anti-union, anti-worker arguments. In the latter role, Reich points out that Uncle Bob's gripping about paying high taxes to support lazy poor people is unfounded. In fact, Reich explains, while low-income folks are working harder than ever (more than 40-hour weeks and multiple jobs), they are also paying a larger portion of their earnings in taxes than the wealthy whose taxes are at an all-time low.

And while Uncle Bob is pretty sure that raising the minimum wage will cause the sky to fall, Reich points out that raising the minimum wage actually doesn't destroy jobs. With more money to spend, a higher minimum wage in workers' pockets means more consumer demand, which in turn requires businesses to hire more people. 

Predictably, Uncle Bob blames unions - it's not clear what be blames unions for but we can assume he thinks most bad things in our economy are the unions' fault. Reich shuts up Uncle Bob quickly by reminding him that the heyday of the American middle class of the 50s and 60s was a direct result of high unionization in America. As union membership has fallen, wages have stagnated and the middle class is withering away.

Check out the entire video and enjoy your time with family this holiday season.